The Ravens successfully jumped all the hurdles to reach the AFC championship game by beating the Houston Texans in the divisional playoff game on Sunday. Their win wasn’t pretty, but it was still a win and it was their first home playoff victory since 2000.
The game featured two defensive powerhouses and the Texans started their 3rd string QB T.J. Yates in lieu of injured starting QB Matt Schaub. The Ravens defense outshined that of the Texans and forced four turnovers to win the game 20-13.
Offensively the Ravens were weak and didn’t put up many points. QB Joe Flacco wasn’t great, but he got the job done and went 14 for 27 with two touch downs. RB Ray Rice was virtually non existent; he had 21 carries for 60 yards and no touch downs.
This weekend, the Ravens will head north toNew Englandto face the AFC’s #1 Seed, the Patriots for the right to play in the big game on February 5. These teams are complete opposites. The Patriots are an offensive powerhouse with elite QB Tom Brady and his many targets including WR Wes Welker. On the flip side, the Ravens have a mediocre offense, but they are a defensive powerhouse with star players including OLB Terrell Suggs, ILB Ray Lewis and S Ed Reed.
The game will answer the age old question about defense winning championships. In 2009, the Ravens faced the Patriots in a playoff game and won 33-14. It was the only time the Ravens beat the Patriots. Last weekend, great defenses proved that elite QBs can be stopped as evidenced by the New Orleans Saints loss to theSan Francisco49ers and the Green Bay Packers loss to the New York Giants.
It won’t be easy and it may not be pretty, but hopefully the Ravens will follow suit and find a way to beat Brady. They must continue to run the ball and grind it out with RBs Rice and Ricky Williams. Defensively they must find a way to force turnovers and prevent Brady from marching his team down the field.
The road to the AFC championship game has been long and bumpy, but the finish line is in sight and the Ravens have come too far to head home on Sunday. And with Reed and Lewis retirement rumors circulating again, they need to come out on top and give Lewis another shot at the big prize.
Come on Ravens, stay focused and give it your 110%. You’ve had some hard fought wins this season, there’s one more hurdle to jump before you can reach the promised land of Indy, an ironic place for Baltimore fans to want to be in, but be there they must. Keep playing like Ravens!